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Origin of the word W00T

March 1, 2013

A lot of speculation has been written over the years about where the word woot comes from… that’s woot! as in, “WOOT!  I’m so happy!”

Some say it’s a Scottish word, some say it comes from dungeons and dragons, some say it originated with L33t speak, and some say it came from the original MMORPGs like Ultima online.

Here’s the real story.

Back before fast internet and before there was anything like a graphical internet let alone graphical playable online computer games, kids with UNIX accounts at their local college spent WAY too much time playing the original online multi-player games – MUDS (Multi User Dungeons.)

There were a lot of them.  Hundreds, maybe more than a thousand or two, and amazingly there are still a lot of them out there.  One of the largest then (and it’s still one of the largest and most popular) was a MUD called The Discworld Mud, modeled after Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book series.

At the height of the Discworld’s popularity there were still only a few popular MUDS available to play on and people tended to play on multiple muds at the same time, so the population of users was very well integrated between the different large muds.  The reason for this was LAG.  In the Discworld LAG was even a monster you could attack and kill.

The servers that the MUDs were hosted on were generally run by collages and were supposed to be used for research, so the MUDs were designed to limit the number of people who could play at a time, so it was typical to sit in a queue and wait for your turn to play on a popular MUD, and while you waited you’d play on a less popular MUD.

All of this explanation is to set up the environment where a popular new word could spread rapidly across a wide group of people.

Woot started this way:

On the Discworld, there was a popular way of communicating with other players on the MUD – you’d shout, and everyone near you would hear what you said.  Usually the shouts would be silly things.  For example if you shouted the number 8, you’d go flying through the air and get kicked out of the game.

It was also common to quote bits of Monty Python movies – especially the Knights who say Ni!.

In the Monty Python skit, the knights use the word Ni to attack the knights of King Arthur, and one knight invariable says it wrong… Noo!

And to this we add one more final piece – the Unseen University Librarian.

The Librarian used to be a human wizard but due to a magical accident he was changed into an orangutan – after which he refused to be turned back into a human because he found that he was more effective as a librarian in Simian form.  His only problem was that he could only communicate by saying, “Wook.”

Add them all together – the shouting system of communication, the word, “Woot” and the Monty Python skit – and you get someone shouting, “WOOK WOOK!” when they were excited, then someone else turning it into, “Woot Woot! in reference to the knights who say ni… er nooo… or something.

This was eventually shortened to simply, “Woot!”

There we have it… the origin of the word, “Woot” is actually a magical orangutan.

The reign of the MUDs was strong all the way up until Ultima Online came out, and then almost all at the same time, the players dropped the MUDs and moved over to the new graphical MUD experience, and they brought their way of speaking with them.

AFK – away from keyboard.
LOL – laugh our loud.
: ) – the smiley face.  It originated in early MUDs.

And Woot.


The Discworld MUD

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